SOLO by William Boyd - Reviews & Feedback

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  • edited September 2013 Posts: 2,543
    Pegasus007 wrote:
    Moved to post to this forum for the first time despite having a regular mi6-hq reader for years, but I have just finished "Solo" and I must say I am so disappointed. The book feels rushed and, in places, contrived. Bond is portrayed as an an alcoholic and spends most of the first half of the book as an observer. After a nice crunching finish to the villain, the final pages just do not make sense to me.
    Are we allowed to discuss the text here or is that classed as a spoiler in this thread?

    I wish you had have put that in spoiler tags.
  • Creasy47Creasy47 In Cuba with Natalya.Moderator
    Posts: 35,206
    Bounine wrote:
    Pegasus007 wrote:
    Moved to post to this forum for the first time despite having a regular mi6-hq reader for years, but I have just finished "Solo" and I must say I am so disappointed. The book feels rushed and, in places, contrived. Bond is portrayed as an an alcoholic and spends most of the first half of the book as an observer. After a nice crunching finish to the villain, the final pages just do not make sense to me.
    Are we allowed to discuss the text here or is that classed as a spoiler in this thread?

    I wish you had have put that in spoiler tags.

    Try not to hope for too many spoiler tags on these forums. I had a good portion of SF spoiled for me because idiots fail to use them in non-spoiler threads. Granted, this one is for reviews, but I guess kindness fails some people.
  • Posts: 2,543
    Yeah, a good portion of SF was spoiled for me too. Will be avoiding those types of threads in the future.
  • Creasy47Creasy47 In Cuba with Natalya.Moderator
    Posts: 35,206
    Bounine wrote:
    Yeah, a good portion of SF was spoiled for me too. Will be avoiding those types of threads in the future.

    I think I'll be avoiding these forums almost entirely once 'Bond 24' gears up and starts filming. I can't stand spoiler leaks.
  • edited September 2013 Posts: 802
    Creasy47 wrote:
    Perhaps instead of always resorting back to Fleming (because with these past three books, it appears that hasn't gone well whatsoever), why not have the next author revert back to the previous three books and see what the authors did wrong?

    Absolutely.
    Interestingly enough, at the RVH meeting a fan asked Boyd if he'd read any of the other continuation novels? Being a fully puffed up member of the literati, he acknowledged reading Amis' CS when he was a boy and said he'd read Faulk's effort - which he hailed as quite brilliant.
    Obviously considers himself too posh to read Higson, Gardner, Pearson or Weinberg - from whom he could have learnt a lot from a positive perspective or Benson and Deaver from whom, together with his buddy Faulks, he could have learnt what not to do.
    Utter disgrace the whole gig!

  • edited September 2013 Posts: 2,543
    He thought DMC was brilliant?! That's, ah...interesting, to say the least.
  • edited September 2013 Posts: 802
    Creasy47 wrote:
    Perhaps instead of always resorting back to Fleming (because with these past three books, it appears that hasn't gone well whatsoever), why not have the next author revert back to the previous three books and see what the authors did wrong?

    Absolutely.
    Interestingly enough, at the RVH meeting a fan asked Boyd if he'd read any of the other continuation novels? Being
    chrisisall wrote:
    Villiers53 wrote:
    As you rightly say, the drinking is just laugh out loud funny. If anybody seriously put that much away they'd have to be carried into rehab!
    Well, is it that Bond gets drunk too much, or just that he drinks a lot & that's too much drinking per chapter? :-?

    As said,the drinking is just flat out risible. There is a difference between the heavy drinking portrayed by Fleming and somebody putting so much away in a restaurant or bar that they would barf up all over the shop, collapse and have to be stretchered into rehab with Gazzer - cool and sophisticated, I don't think so!
    Amongst all the other deficiencies in this abomination, it is clear that Boyd knows zero about Fleming's stock in trade - drink, cars, guns, combat , exotic locations,trade craft and a certain sartorial expression. I didn't add sex to the list because I suppose he has some experience in this direction!

  • Posts: 267
    Villiers53 wrote:
    Creasy47 wrote:
    Perhaps instead of always resorting back to Fleming (because with these past three books, it appears that hasn't gone well whatsoever), why not have the next author revert back to the previous three books and see what the authors did wrong?

    Absolutely.
    Interestingly enough, at the RVH meeting a fan asked Boyd if he'd read any of the other continuation novels? Being a fully puffed up member of the literati, he acknowledged reading Amis' CS when he was a boy and said he'd read Faulk's effort - which he hailed as quite brilliant.
    Obviously considers himself too posh to read Higson, Gardner, Pearson or Weinberg - from whom he could have learnt a lot from a positive perspective or Benson and Deaver from whom, together with his buddy Faulks, he could have learnt what not to do.
    Utter disgrace the whole gig!
    Quite right old chap.
    That night Boyd also criticised Fleming's canon as being uneven and his plots as being implausible.
    After reading Solo, I think those comments are just unbelievable.
    A couple of weeks ago I re-read 'Moonraker' and was simply blown away. Written in 1957, if you swoped Drax's allegiance from fascism to al Qaeda and substituted a dirty bomb for his rocket, you'd have a plot line oven ready for a Craig movie! Plot as tight as a duck's arse Mr.Boyd - live and learn but not at our expense!

  • SandySandy Somewhere in Europe
    Posts: 4,012
    I was saving a discount I had in a shop to buy Solo, after reading this thread I bought something else. I'll wait for the paperback, that is if I get to buy it. I'm not usually one to decide based on reviews but this
    Villiers53 wrote:
    Creasy47 wrote:
    Perhaps instead of always resorting back to Fleming (because with these past three books, it appears that hasn't gone well whatsoever), why not have the next author revert back to the previous three books and see what the authors did wrong?

    Absolutely.
    Interestingly enough, at the RVH meeting a fan asked Boyd if he'd read any of the other continuation novels? Being a fully puffed up member of the literati, he acknowledged reading Amis' CS when he was a boy and said he'd read Faulk's effort - which he hailed as quite brilliant.
    Obviously considers himself too posh to read Higson, Gardner, Pearson or Weinberg - from whom he could have learnt a lot from a positive perspective or Benson and Deaver from whom, together with his buddy Faulks, he could have learnt what not to do.
    Utter disgrace the whole gig!

    and the opinions of fellow members whose opinion I respect did it for me.
    By by Boyd...
  • Regarding the sex, Boyd sure would have some experience! - but I have an ageist cliam that anyone writing Bond should be, well, if not younger than 50 then with the right attitude. Fleming was a player almost until his death, and nothing commendable about that seeing as he was married; then again his wife was also into mild S&M and committed adultery too, so what gives. My point is that Faulks, Deaver and now Boyd all give the look of blokes who are settled down. So did Gardner come to think of it. Were any to return to a hotel room and find a naked woman in their bed about to get it on, their first thought would be, 'Dearie me, I must not cheat on my beloved back home.' A worth thought, mark you, but not in keeping with the heady lust of a Bond novel. Or, if single, they'll be of an age where they are still mooning over their long lost love who went off with a hedge fund manager while they were struggling to land a book deal.

    Now, Christopher Wood did give the impression of being a bit vital, the sex is just right in his two books (ditto Amis), but about all the others seem a bit cringey, like their heart, let alone anything else, just isn't in it.

    Still, who cares when Boyd has researched Bond's correct age, his taste in clothes, food, make of vinegar and nailed exactly the car he'd be driving... jeez.

    Another thing that I get the impression from excerpts of Boyd's novel, and this applies to Deaver and Faulks too, is a total lack of humour. Fleming sort of gave the impression of conveying it as all being a delicious joke, albeit one to be taken kind of seriously. It's exotic, larger than life, wonderful. But these other guys just jump through various plot points, with emphasis on consumer brands to add colour and veracity to Bond's world. There isn't much sense of Bond's inner life, he doesn't seem to have any thoughts of his own much. We are not let into his world, he is the cold, distant agent that Fleming's Bond sometimes is - but not all the time. Again, this is where Wood excelled, he came up with little reflections and observations about character that Fleming himself did, albeit in a sometimes unPC way.

  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    Posts: 9,117
    Villiers53 wrote:

    Absolutely.
    Interestingly enough, at the RVH meeting a fan asked Boyd if he'd read any of the other continuation novels? Being a fully puffed up member of the literati, he acknowledged reading Amis' CS when he was a boy and said he'd read Faulk's effort - which he hailed as quite brilliant.
    Obviously considers himself too posh to read Higson, Gardner, Pearson or Weinberg - from whom he could have learnt a lot from a positive perspective or Benson and Deaver from whom, together with his buddy Faulks, he could have learnt what not to do.
    Utter disgrace the whole gig!

    This says it all then. Any lingering doubt that this might not be a shambles is gone.

    Love the way the media and the authors union can't wait to name drop Amis, Faulkes and Deaver as continuation authors but the one bloke (Gardner) who did a competent job is just airbrushed from history.

  • Posts: 11,175
    Picked up my copy today. At work this week only we have a 20% staff discount instead of the normal 10. Thought I'd take a chance and grab one. Am in the middle of reading another book at the moment though.
  • MrcogginsMrcoggins Following in the footsteps of Quentin Quigley.
    Posts: 3,139
    Oh boy if this is what it's going to be like a think I'm quite lucky that amazon are only going to charge me £3:95 ! Still I wait to see though the brief chat that I had with the author at the launch event at the south bank last week was not inspiring when I asked him why he had given bond a Jensen to drive he replied that friends of his had owned the car and that he and they both thought they were great things to drive so that's why he put bond in one to which I replied
    You don't drive yourself do you Mr Boyd !
  • Posts: 267
    Villiers53 wrote:

    Absolutely.
    Interestingly enough, at the RVH meeting a fan asked Boyd if he'd read any of the other continuation novels? Being a fully puffed up member of the literati, he acknowledged reading Amis' CS when he was a boy and said he'd read Faulk's effort - which he hailed as quite brilliant.
    Obviously considers himself too posh to read Higson, Gardner, Pearson or Weinberg - from whom he could have learnt a lot from a positive perspective or Benson and Deaver from whom, together with his buddy Faulks, he could have learnt what not to do.
    Utter disgrace the whole gig!

    This says it all then. Any lingering doubt that this might not be a shambles is gone.

    Love the way the media and the authors union can't wait to name drop Amis, Faulkes and Deaver as continuation authors but the one bloke (Gardner) who did a competent job is just airbrushed from history.

    Yes, you are quite right, funny how they studiously ignore John Gardner when he did such a good job for them in the '80s.
    Always liked his work. Particularly the Secret Generation books, his Kruger works and his Moriarty stuff. He even did a pretty good series just before he died featuring Suzie Mountford.
    OK, in keeping with most folk, I think he went on a little too long, but all in all, he did us proud.
  • Creasy47Creasy47 In Cuba with Natalya.Moderator
    Posts: 35,206
    I don't read much any more, sadly, but why is it I've only heard mostly-superb things about Gardner's novels, and like @TheWizardOfIce stated, you never hear anything about him when the time comes along? The last two continuation novels are brought up time and time again, but nothing of Gardner?
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 16,663
    Creasy47 wrote:
    The last two continuation novels are brought up time and time again, but nothing of Gardner?

    Might be that no one wants to be compared to the only writer that wrote more Bond novels than Fleming himself... ;)
  • Creasy47Creasy47 In Cuba with Natalya.Moderator
    Posts: 35,206
    @chrisisall, that is true, I can understand that now. ;-)

    As I've said, look back at these three straight failures now (in the future). Don't continue to revert back to Fleming, because look at what that has given us.
  • Creasy47 wrote:
    @chrisisall, that is true, I can understand that now. ;-)

    As I've said, look back at these three straight failures now (in the future). Don't continue to revert back to Fleming, because look at what that has given us.

    Well not quite. Reverting to Fleming in a poor way is what has happened with the last 2 novels, and by the sounds of it, this one too.

    I believe there is an author out there capable of reverting back to Fleming successfully. Unfortunately the last few authors were not the right choice to do this.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 16,663
    Christopher Wood! We NEED you!
  • Posts: 2,543
    chrisisall wrote:
    Christopher Wood! We NEED you!

    Yes! And John Pearson!

  • Posts: 11,175
    Sadly the person we REALLY need has been dead for 50 years :(
  • Posts: 267
    BAIN123 wrote:
    Sadly the person we REALLY need has been dead for 50 years :(

    Yes @BAIN123 - we'd be in the best of hands!
    Failing the resurrection, we have to go on bended knee to Charlie Higson or rather IFP have to.
    He demonstrated over five fabulous 'Young Bond' adventures that he gets it completely.
    Please God - no more of these literati tricksters!

  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    Posts: 9,117
    Creasy47 wrote:
    I don't read much any more, sadly, but why is it I've only heard mostly-superb things about Gardner's novels, and like @TheWizardOfIce stated, you never hear anything about him when the time comes along? The last two continuation novels are brought up time and time again, but nothing of Gardner?

    Seems to me that no one wants to mention Gardner as he is seen as a journeyman writer who is not fit to lace the boots of the superstar authors we have had for the last three debacles. Same goes for Benson although in his case its understandable.

    I may be wrong in this but it seems that this revisionist version of history where Gardner never existed has only come about since Glidrose became IFP. I can't say I'm an expert on the ins and outs of the change of company but it seems that the newly formed IFP saw what Glidrose had done with Gardner and Benson and saw two perfect examples of the law of diminishing returns and decided to go down another route - that of the gun-for-hire celebrity author.

    They should be commended for trying a fresh approach because ever since Scorpius the Bond books had been declining alarmingly in both quality and sales so it was clear a change of direction was needed.

    However, good management means admitting when you are wrong and it is abundantly clear now that the celebrity author strategy has miserably failed.

    What irks me intensely is the press that these guys are getting to knock out extremely shoddy work. It's like they're doing us a favour by lowering themselves and dabbling in something so base as Bond. Every interview and media article claims how they studied Fleming for inspiration and have given us a classic back to basics Bond adventure. Yet when you read it its clear that no one involved has a clue about the character apart from ticking off a checklist of what they think is Flemingesque such as drinking, smoking, shagging and brand names.

    Sorry Seb, Jeff and Bill but it takes more than that to make a good Bond adventure.

    It is clear now that IFP need a new direction as if people like us aren't going to buy the book then just who the hell is?

    It seems the obvious answer (short of giving a crack to an unknown by having say a competition on here for people to submit a synopsis and opening chapter) has to be Higson as he clearly understands the character, has good sales figures and importantly has a readership who having read the young Bond series are now old enough to read what happens to the adult Bond.

    At the moment the literary Bond seems to be as big a shambles as the computer game Bond. How do people find it so easy to convert what should be a slam dunk into disaster? And how do such people keep their jobs?

  • 0BradyM0Bondfanatic70BradyM0Bondfanatic7 I've missed you all.
    Posts: 28,416
    Are Faulks, Deaver, and Boyd really considered celebrity authors? Shocking, honestly.
  • Creasy47 wrote:
    I don't read much any more, sadly, but why is it I've only heard mostly-superb things about Gardner's novels, and like @TheWizardOfIce stated, you never hear anything about him when the time comes along? The last two continuation novels are brought up time and time again, but nothing of Gardner?

    Seems to me that no one wants to mention Gardner as he is seen as a journeyman writer who is not fit to lace the boots of the superstar authors we have had for the last three debacles. Same goes for Benson although in his case its understandable.

    I may be wrong in this but it seems that this revisionist version of history where Gardner never existed has only come about since Glidrose became IFP. I can't say I'm an expert on the ins and outs of the change of company but it seems that the newly formed IFP saw what Glidrose had done with Gardner and Benson and saw two perfect examples of the law of diminishing returns and decided to go down another route - that of the gun-for-hire celebrity author.

    They should be commended for trying a fresh approach because ever since Scorpius the Bond books had been declining alarmingly in both quality and sales so it was clear a change of direction was needed.

    However, good management means admitting when you are wrong and it is abundantly clear now that the celebrity author strategy has miserably failed.

    What irks me intensely is the press that these guys are getting to knock out extremely shoddy work. It's like they're doing us a favour by lowering themselves and dabbling in something so base as Bond. Every interview and media article claims how they studied Fleming for inspiration and have given us a classic back to basics Bond adventure. Yet when you read it its clear that no one involved has a clue about the character apart from ticking off a checklist of what they think is Flemingesque such as drinking, smoking, shagging and brand names.

    Sorry Seb, Jeff and Bill but it takes more than that to make a good Bond adventure.

    It is clear now that IFP need a new direction as if people like us aren't going to buy the book then just who the hell is?

    It seems the obvious answer (short of giving a crack to an unknown by having say a competition on here for people to submit a synopsis and opening chapter) has to be Higson as he clearly understands the character, has good sales figures and importantly has a readership who having read the young Bond series are now old enough to read what happens to the adult Bond.

    At the moment the literary Bond seems to be as big a shambles as the computer game Bond. How do people find it so easy to convert what should be a slam dunk into disaster? And how do such people keep their jobs?


    Wizard, did you read it yet?


  • 4EverBonded4EverBonded Riding a white swan to Matera
    Posts: 12,377
    Creasy47 wrote:
    I don't read much any more, sadly, but why is it I've only heard mostly-superb things about Gardner's novels, and like @TheWizardOfIce stated, you never hear anything about him when the time comes along? The last two continuation novels are brought up time and time again, but nothing of Gardner?

    Seems to me that no one wants to mention Gardner as he is seen as a journeyman writer who is not fit to lace the boots of the superstar authors we have had for the last three debacles. Same goes for Benson although in his case its understandable.

    I may be wrong in this but it seems that this revisionist version of history where Gardner never existed has only come about since Glidrose became IFP. I can't say I'm an expert on the ins and outs of the change of company but it seems that the newly formed IFP saw what Glidrose had done with Gardner and Benson and saw two perfect examples of the law of diminishing returns and decided to go down another route - that of the gun-for-hire celebrity author.

    They should be commended for trying a fresh approach because ever since Scorpius the Bond books had been declining alarmingly in both quality and sales so it was clear a change of direction was needed.

    However, good management means admitting when you are wrong and it is abundantly clear now that the celebrity author strategy has miserably failed.

    What irks me intensely is the press that these guys are getting to knock out extremely shoddy work. It's like they're doing us a favour by lowering themselves and dabbling in something so base as Bond. Every interview and media article claims how they studied Fleming for inspiration and have given us a classic back to basics Bond adventure. Yet when you read it its clear that no one involved has a clue about the character apart from ticking off a checklist of what they think is Flemingesque such as drinking, smoking, shagging and brand names.

    Sorry Seb, Jeff and Bill but it takes more than that to make a good Bond adventure.

    It is clear now that IFP need a new direction as if people like us aren't going to buy the book then just who the hell is?

    It seems the obvious answer (short of giving a crack to an unknown by having say a competition on here for people to submit a synopsis and opening chapter) has to be Higson as he clearly understands the character, has good sales figures and importantly has a readership who having read the young Bond series are now old enough to read what happens to the adult Bond.

    At the moment the literary Bond seems to be as big a shambles as the computer game Bond. How do people find it so easy to convert what should be a slam dunk into disaster? And how do such people keep their jobs?

    This is superbly articulated, Wizard.

    I will get a copy of Solo, in paperback, much later. It is disheartening the way IFP has chosen authors over the past few years. And Gardner, it seems by all accounts, deserves far better mention. Frankly, the more I have read of Boyd's interviews, the less respect I have for him. And judging by reviews of members whose opinions I respect, I do not think his writing (when I get around to reading it) will change my mind favorably towards his take on Bond.
  • MrcogginsMrcoggins Following in the footsteps of Quentin Quigley.
    Posts: 3,139
    When I returned from work today it was waiting for me I've just read it in one sitting
    Somewhat underwhelmed !
  • 4EverBonded4EverBonded Riding a white swan to Matera
    Posts: 12,377
    Well, I am not surprised. Anything else you can share about it, @Mrcoggins? What did you like? Dislike the most?
  • MrcogginsMrcoggins Following in the footsteps of Quentin Quigley.
    Posts: 3,139
    To be fair I wont say any more at the moment I will let more people read it first before I pick the things that are wrong/right with it.
  • 4EverBonded4EverBonded Riding a white swan to Matera
    Posts: 12,377
    Well, okay. There have been plenty of spoilers on this thread already, though.
    I will probably read it before the New Year; no rush now.
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